HC Deb 27 May 1966 vol 729 cc172-3W
Mr. Conlan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is satisfied that adequate provision is made for British embassies and consulates to arrange for temporary loans to British tourists whose return to this country from abroad is delayed due to sickness or accident; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. George Thomson

Yes. As I said on 5th July 1965, British subjects in financial difficulty abroad may be repatriated as a last resort in genuine cases of hardship, such as those referred to by my hon. Friend. The consul must first make full inquiries into their financial circumstances. This is in effect a loan, and the person concerned is required to give a written undertaking to repay the debt, which will be enforced, if necessary, by legal proceedings. However, the Government very much hope that travellers will protect themselves against the risks of foreign travel by arranging the necessary insurance.

British consuls have no authority to make loans to British subjects abroad except in the circumstances I have described. Travellers should act before their money runs out and telegraph or telephone to their bank, relatives or friends for a remittance. If they have insufficient money to do even that, the Consul will help them to get in touch by sending a message on their behalf. If my hon. Friend has any particular personal case in mind I should be glad to look into it.